The outing of Astolat and Fan History

December 31st, 2009 by Laura Leave a reply »

This post is written in response to some comments posted on this blog entry.  I’ve been repeatedly accused of outing Astolat.  I’ve largely been silent on it because it really serves no purpose to confront people about their view on the events.  It tends to piss people off and just drag up a whole bunch of garbage and nastiness in fandom that I’d and others would prefer to avoid.

Prior to the connection of Astolat and cathexys and and their real names on Fan History, both had made the connection themselves.  They did this on their FLists on LiveJournal.  They shared it with friends and acquaintances on other services.  Neither took active steps to really hide the connections and both were viewed as open fandom secrets that everyone knew.  The information frequently appeared on lol_meme, to the point where the mods on lol_meme stopped removing it.  At the time, Fan History’s admins edited articles and made the connections with out thinking, because everyone knew and the information was easily accessible.  Neither of these women were particularly “in the closet” with their identities.  When we were informed otherwise, I asked members of our staff about it.  One of them, who is no longer on staff, made the final call to put it back in and asked me to make the edit as they viewed as common knowledge.  I did, and I’ve never named that person or blamed them because ultimately, the buck stops with me and I didn’t want to subject a person I considered a good friend to the type of wank storm that I was being subjected to.

That these women were “in the closet” in regards to their identities is one of the biggest problems I have with the attacks on myself and Fan History.  Neither were and neither continue to be.  If you want to be “in the closet” and keep your fandom identity separated from your “real life” identity and name, you do it all the time.  You don’t decide that it is okay to be out with this person over here and not that person over there.  And by this person, I mean this group of two or three thousand and not that group of ten.    You don’t make information public and then claim that only this group over here can use that information when it suits them.  Still, that’s what both Astolat and cathexys chose to do.  They were out with their real names when it suited them and not when they weren’t.

We couldn’t have outed either of them.

Would our admin staff make the same decisions again regarding connecting people’s names like that?  No.  Never.

Have we changed our policies to prevent this from happening again?  Yes. YesAbsolutely.  And we enforce it and err on the side of caution.  We have a wonderful admin who has the primary job of enforcing these policies and she does an excellent job.  Connections between real names and fan names must be cited if they are being used on the wiki.  If others do make those connections in a way that we feel is malicious, they get banned.  In fact, edits that connect real life names with fannish ones are routinely altered, no matter who the editor is. We handle these issues quickly when they develop.  We make it our mission to create policies that bend over backwards to be fair to the whole of the fan community, from LiveJournal to DeviantART to FanFiction.Net to Rescue Rangers message boards to Yahoo!Groups.

And that’s better than can be said of the wiki created by the organization Astolat started. They originally said that there would be  no real names would be allowed unless a person consented and that no one would be allowed to connect real names to fan names.  My real name and pen name were connected in a bandom related article.  At first, they removed my real name from the article when I requested it. Later, they added it back without telling me.  (The article about me is one of the most edited on Fanlore.)  That’s fine because it isn’t like I haven’t made the connection myself.  Later, I asked for my real name to be removed from their wiki.  I was told if I took steps to remove the connection, it would be done.  These steps were taken: Removing my last name from all my accounts, and removing links to profiles where I could not remove my last name.  They determined that it sucks to be me because they were not going to do it, despite my compliance with their demands.  When people affiliated with the organization attacked me and Fan History for not allowing fans to control their identities and using real names without permission? And then do the same thing that they accused me of doing just so they can write about me?  That’s just hypocrisy at its finest and fandom politics at their worst.
Edited to add: Not mentioned in the original edit but worth adding: In trying to get my real name removed from Fanlore after it had been inserted again with out my knowledge after having been told it would be removed, I tried to reach out to Astolat and cathexys.  I asked them, as members of the Organization for Transformative Works who had concerns about outing against their will, to help get my name removed from Fanlore. Neither responded to repeated e-mails. I had e-mailed coffeeandink, who was in a similar situation at the time, and asked for her help as she had friends inside the organization.  She replied to tell me that there was nothing she could do to help me.

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  • I am not sure what part of when you talk about yourself online, you have exposed yourself.... at least in regards to the people 'outed.' I really do not think of it as an outing and it is ridiculous when you put yourself online and then have a shit fit when someone says something about you. Of course, it is a natural first reaction, but to draw it out into a long grudge, and involve others in it while encouraging people to retaliate in some manner is shameful and damn childish. It is sad that these people are adults.

    I would say to get over themselves. If they feel they have been outed, then let me say: Guess what... you should have kept yourself anonymous and under an assumed name. If you are truthful about what you say, people will accept your choice to have an assumed named online. You also should know this type of stuff happens a lot, and if you choose to jump into a situation with eyes wide open, be prepared to accept anything. So at least accept responsibility and stop bagging on people as a means of scapegoating because things are not going your way....and grow up!

    ----

    I am sure there will be people who keep on carrying on, but Laura, I am glad you have addressed this matter. It is about time.

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